Thursday, March 16, 2006

Historical Revisionism

The Onion had a pretty funny story this week about President Bush and revisionist history.

Bush Increasingly Focused On How Revisionist History Will See Him - March 13, 2006

WASHINGTON, DC. With many of his administration's policies facing growing public disapproval, President Bush is reportedly becoming more concerned with how he will be portrayed by future revisionist historians. "Just last summer, the president never reflected on how apologists would spin his increased lobbying for an unpopular war, or how future far-right generations would justify his failed domestic policy initiatives," presidential scholar Dr. Robert Dallek said. "He reportedly asked an aide if, decades from now, the deluded would see him as great, like Ronald Reagan, or merely as a fully redeemed elder statesman, like Richard Nixon." Margaret Meehan, a spokesman for the National Board Of Historical Revision, offered no comment on any future portrayal of "America's most beloved and accomplished president."

Of course, in 2003 President Bush made it crystal clear what he thought of revisionist history when he said: "This nation acted to a threat from the dictator of Iraq," Bush said. "Now there are some who would like to rewrite history -- revisionist historians is what I like to call them." (BTW, that is what everyone calls people who rewrite the standard or initial interpretation of an event.)

However, revisionism isn't necessarily bad or good. Hopefully, revisionism brings to light a new perspective on an issue - perhaps a more accurate one - perhaps one that is more applicable to modern times. But to condemn all revisionism, just because you disagree with one revisionist interpretation of an event is not only short-sighted, but also indicates an inaccurate understanding of the discipline of history -- the belief that there is only one historical 'truth.' I would have expected a better understanding of the subject coming from someone who got his B.A. in history from an ivy league university.

P.S. As long as you are reading The Onion check out this story.

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